Huntsville attorney expects defense to take advantage of plea deal in Madison Co. mass murder trial

A local attorney says he believes the defense will try to take advantage of the state's plea deal with Christopher Henderson's first wife.

Posted: Jun 28, 2021 10:53 PM
Updated: Jun 28, 2021 10:55 PM

Tuesday morning defense attorneys for the man accused of one of Madison County's biggest mass murders are expected to make their case.

The prosecution rested Monday evening after a lengthy questioning of Christopher Henderson's first wife, Rhonda Carlson, who is also facing more than a dozen charges for the murders.

Christopher Henderson

A local attorney believes the defense will try to take advantage of the plea deal that allowed for Carlson to testify. However, he says he doesn't believe the case is a matter of innocence or guilt, but rather a matter of life or death.

"The big push for the defense in this case is trying to get the person life without parole instead of death," Mark McDaniel said.

He is a local defense attorney with more than 40 years of experience, and says he's been in similar situations time and time again.

"The primary goal for any defense lawyer in a capital murder case is to save their client's life," McDaniel said.

He believes the defense will try to use Carlson's plea deal to their advantage. She agreed to testify against her husband christopher henderson in order to avoid the death penalty. She will now serve life without parole for the same crime henderson is accused of.

"They're going to argue she was the mastermind and their client shouldn't get a greater sentence than her," McDaniel said.

However, McDaniel says prosecutors will not back down and believes the deal is necessary in order for them to make their case.

"Defense are going to be saying, 'You made a deal with a devil.' Prosecutors are going to say,"Yep! We made a deal with the devil to get a worse devil, who is right there.'" McDaniel explained.

If the jury convicts Henderson, a second trial will commence, where both attorneys will have to show whether or not he deserves the death penalty. The jury will then deliberate and make a decision.

Because the crime took place before April 2017, the trial will follow the old Alabama law, where the jury can only recommend a sentence. That means it will be up to the judge to make the final decision.

Once the jury makes their recommendation on the sentencing, a separate hearing will be held weeks after with the judge's decision.

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